Woman used window to escape alleged serial killer

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 06, 2011 3:28 PM

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A woman who said she survived an attack by accused serial-killer Anthony Sowell testified on Wednesday she tried to climb out a window of his home after being attacked, seeing it as her only opportunity to escape.

"It was my only chance and I took it. By the grace of God here I sit," said Shawn Morris, who also told the defense under cross-examination she had been drinking and doing crack before she tried to escape out of Sowell's window.

She said she was attacked in October 2009 days before police raided Sowell's home and discovered the bodies of 11 women. Sowell, 51, is charged with the aggravated murder of those women and faces a possible death penalty sentence.

Morris had testified on Tuesday that she went to Sowell's house to drink and do drugs. She left the house but needed to return to retrieve an ID when he attacked her.

During her attack she said she was able to get to a window on Sowell's second floor and started to climb out. According to her testimony, Sowell tried to grab her and then shoved her out the window before she lost consciousness.

Defense attorney John Parker, in his cross-examination, asked the woman repeatedly if she lied to the hospital and her husband about the incident, telling them she had been in a car accident.

"I'm telling the truth now. I'm the voice for them," she said, referring to the alleged murder victims.

During questioning, the irritated witness had to be advised by Judge Dick Ambrose to answer the defense's questions.

The next four witnesses testified that neighbors waved them over to see an injured woman lying on the ground naked, and a man, between the Sowell house and a sausage shop.

Donald Laster, a landlord in the area, testified he saw a "stark naked" man and woman in an alley and demanded that the man, whom he identified as Sowell, stop moving the woman Sowell had identified as his wife.

Laster said, "He said she was his wife and 'I'm going to take her back into the house. She's all right.'"

Laster also testified he gave the unconscious woman a T-shirt to cover her up and then saw Sowell try to carry her back into his house as an emergency vehicle pulled up.

The trial continues this afternoon.

(Writing and reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Cynthia Johnston)